We can only imagine the horror in Gaza today as Israel intensifies its assault of that overcrowded, impoverished strip. It is a continuing nightmare story of pain and loss, of trauma and devastation. The heartbreaking numbers by themselves tell part of the story — with hundreds killed, thousands wounded, tens of thousands without homes, and now 600,000 without water.
Sobbing and shaking, Ismail Abu Musallam leaned against the wall of a hospital Friday, waiting for three of his children to be prepared for burial. They were killed as they slept when an Israeli tank shell hit their home, burying 11-year-old Ahmed, 14-year-old Walaa and 16-year-old Mohammed under debris in their beds.
His personal tragedy is not unique: the U.N. says minors make up one-fifth of the 299 Palestinians killed in 11 days of intense Israeli bombardment of the densely populated Gaza Strip, where half the 1.7 million people are under age 18.
The Israeli military says it's doing its utmost to spare civilians by urging residents to leave areas that are about to be shelled or bombed as Hamas targets. It accuses the Islamic militants of using civilians as human shields by firing rockets from civilian areas.
But even if urged to evacuate, most Gazans have no safe place to go, rights activists say.
In recent days, Israel repeatedly urged people living near the border with Israel to leave their homes. As it later turned out, this was in part in preparation for the ground offensive Israel launched late Thursday, sending in thousands of troops.
Border areas, including the northern town of Beit Lahiya, came under heavy shelling attack. Across Gaza, the heavy thuds of tank fire could be heard through the night from Thursday to Friday, often just seconds apart.
[youtube height=”500″ width=”800″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-Qb4_sCx38[/youtube]
Like people everywhere, give Palestinians hope and freedom, independence and peace and they will choose life.
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